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Re: .html and nothing else

From: Shane P. McCarron <shane@aptest.com>
Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2000 10:02:53 -0500
Message-ID: <39D8A39D.60D1275A@aptest.com>
To: Terje Bless <link@tss.no>
CC: W3C Validator <www-validator@w3.org>
At the risk of sounding pedantic here, let me expand on something:

First, XHTML 1.0 is somewhat wishy-washy on the issue of Internet Media
Types.

5.1 Internet Media Type

         As of the publication of this recommendation, the general
recommended MIME labeling for XML-based applications has yet to be
resolved.

         However, XHTML Documents which follow the guidelines set forth
in Appendix C, "HTML Compatibility Guidelines" may be labeled with the
Internet Media
         Type "text/html", as they are compatible with most HTML
browsers. This document makes no recommendation about MIME labeling of
other XHTML
         documents.

The reason for this is that in earlier drafts of this specification it
explicitly said text/xml or text/html.  The XML community went ape-shit
(a technical term) because these documents, while well formed and indeed
valid, have embedded semantic assumptions that cannot be expressed in
pure XML.  This meant that even if an XHTML document were served up as
text/xml, in order to process the document correctly a conforming user
agent would have to have arcane knowledge of HTML and its semantics. 
The XML purists out there (you know who you are) objected strongly to
this requirement.

Rather than ruffle everyone's feathers, we decided to be silent on the
issue of XML in the document itself, punting the issue to an IETF
taskforce.

Now, this does NOT mean that you cannot serve up XHTML 1.0 documents as
text/xml.  What it means is that when you do so, you had better have an
associated XML Schema or DTD that describes the semantics of the
document in a way that is compatible with the browsers.  

As to whether this is a service or not - three data points:

First, XHTML requires documents to be valid. This also means
well-formed.  Documents that are not well formed will not even render in
current versions of Netscape when a stylesheet is used, so requiring
well-formedness has immediate benefit.

Second, in my empirical tests well formed documents render significantly
faster in all modern browsers.  I assume this is because they are easier
to parse.

Third, XHTML introduces the concept of case-sensitivity in elements and
attributes and forces people to start lower-case now.  This helps to
ensure that people are used to using the forms that XHTML 2.0 (and XML
in general) requires.

Finally, note that XHTML 1.0 documents are compatible with XML
requirements and with XHTML 1.1 (all you would need to do is change the
DOCTYPE declaration). This means that, in general, documents can migrate
as the standard progresses.

I'm sorry if this doesn't meet all of your requirements - it met a
number of other peoples'.

--
Shane P. McCarron                  phone: +1 763 786-8160
ApTest                               fax: +1 763 786-8180
                                  mobile: +1 612 799-6942
                                  e-mail: shane@aptest.com
Received on Monday, 2 October 2000 11:02:59 GMT

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